What's Your Genre? Week: Sarah Ockler on Contemp!

Today, we have Sarah Ockler talking about reading Contemporary Realistic Fiction!


How do I love contemporary realistic fiction? Let me count the ways!


For me, as both a writer and a reader, contemporary fiction is very much about characters. Whatever the primary issue or plot in the book -- death, first love, teen pregnancy, addiction, best friendships, faith, divorce, sibling rivalry, crime, self esteem, and countless others -- it's not usually a broad commentary on how that issue affects the world, but an in-depth look at how a particular character experiences it. When I develop characters, my goal is to create someone that readers feel they know, or could know, in real life. Someone authentic and recognizable, someone in whom readers can see themselves or their own friends and family. I spend so much time with the characters that by the end of a book project, if I don't feel like they really *are* real people with real stories to tell, I haven't succeeded.


Another thing I love about writing contemporary fiction is that because the basic setting (somewhere on planet earth, present day) is already familiar, I don't have to spend a lot of time orienting readers to a strange new world with magical rules, mystifying history, or other special circumstances. Instead, I can focus on bringing the characters and their relationships to life, showing the setting primarily in terms of how the characters interact with and respond to it. I can also build fictional places based on real towns and cities, drawing from memory or even maps and pictures that already exist (thank you, Google!). The drawback in this approach is that if a setting is supposed to be a real place, say New York City or Disneyworld, then writers open ourselves up to lots of criticism if we don't get the details exactly right. I try to work around this by loosely disguising real places with fictional names and similar features, leaving myself some creative wiggle room. Again, my primary goal in creating a contemporary story is to let the characters shine through the backdrop of a realistic, believable setting.

Research & Authenticity

My research for contemp stories is generally limited to very specific elements and doesn't require a lot of time, allowing me to focus more on the storytelling itself. For example, in Twenty Boy Summer, I only needed to research the geography of Northern California and the location of certain sights in San Francisco. In Fixing Delilah, I researched a bit about Vermont geography, maple syrup production, and seasonal flowers, all of which contributed more to the background of the story than to the plot and characters. In my current project, the main character is an ice skater, so I researched technical ice skating, terminology, equipment, and the lifestyles of teen competitive skaters. In each book, I probably could've written the stories without doing such research, but for me, research -- however limited -- is a key component in creating authentic, believable tales. When someone picks up one of my books, I want that person to become immersed in the story, not distracted by little factual errors or flaws that yank her away from the characters and their struggles.

Memories & Shared Experiences

Because I write YA stories, I rely on memory a lot. I close my eyes and revisit things that happened in my own teen years, whether it's a specific event like graduation or summer break, or just the vast sea of emotions and feelings that come with things like best friendships and fights, first love and broken hearts, family dynamics, peer and parental pressure, sexuality, choices... so many amazing and frightening experiences! There were wonderful times as well as downright painful ones, but through contemporary stories and characters, writers and readers share those experiences together. Like we've said over at The Contemps, contemporary fiction lets us all know that we're not alone in this very real world. Contemporary, realistic stories connect people on a very human level, and that's something I've always loved about the power of books.

Thanks for hosting me today, Harmony! I hope everyone will check out more contemporary stories and join the ongoing discussion and celebration at The Contemps!


- Sarah Ockler, author of Fixing Delilah and Twenty Boy Summer and member of The Contemps, a group of YA authors putting realistic fiction in the spotlight.


What's Your Genre? Week. Andrea Cremer!

As promised, I have another themed week for you guys! Last months I had bloggers here and THIS month, I have AWESOME authors here to talk about the different type of genres they write!

Today we have Andrea Cremer talking about writing Fantasy and Paranormal Romance!


I’m often asked if I would write in a genre other than paranormal/fantasy. It’s hard to imagine doing so. Fantasy was my bread and butter from my earliest books. Even in non-fantasy genres I related the most to fantasy elements. For example, I loved Anne of Green Gables for the creative worlds she constantly dreamed up. It’s not many a heroine you’ll find who ends up stranded in a river because she was pretending to be the Lady of Shalott (and to be rescued by Gilbert Blythe! Sigh, Gilbert Blythe).

For as long as I can remember I’ve been dreaming up other worlds, other times, fantastical scenarios, and supernatural gifts that would make life more interesting. When writing, creating characters and places that lacked those magical elements and extraordinary events would likely leave me a little bit sad.

What I love about fantasy is its longevity and flexibility. Fantasy and paranormal tales are tied up in human culture. Our mythologies going back as far as histories – both oral and written – record include episodes of magic, mystery, miracle. Fantasy seems to be a vital part of the human condition. And I’m glad for it.

I also am committed to the ways in which fantasy has been on the leading edge of social issues. Questions about gender and sexual power, racial ideologies, and hot-button political topics have long found expression in sci-fi and fantasy. I think that the realm of the impossible makes writers and readers less fearless when it comes to timely and challenging subjects. Fantasy writers give a voice to the voiceless in ways that characters in other genres aren’t able too, forecasting social change well before it takes root in contemporary cultures.

Finally, fantasy and paranormal offer the gift of escape. There’s nothing quite like being transported into a world where you’re forced to relearn all the rules, encounter new ways of thinking and being, and might just discover a few amazing powers that you didn’t know you had.


Squee, I love reading Andrea's posts. =P Hoped you liked it!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Other by Karen Kincy

Who: Karen Kincy
What: Other
When: July 1st, 2010
Why: Hype
How: Gifted by the lovely April.

Seventeen-year-old Gwen hides a dangerous secret: she’s Other. Half-pooka,
to be exact, thanks to the father she never met. Most Americans don’t exactly
roll out the welcome mat for Others, especially not the small-town folks of
Klikamuks, Washington. As if this isn’t bad enough, Gwen’s on the brink of
revealing her true identity to her long-time boyfriend, Zack, but she’s scared
he’ll lump her with the likes of bloodthirsty vampires and feral werewolves.

When a pack of werewolves chooses the national forest behind Gwen’s home
as their new territory, the tensions in Klikamuks escalate-into murder. It soon
becomes clear a serial killer is methodically slaying Others. The police turn a
blind eye, leaving Gwen to find the killer before the killer finds her. As she
hunts for clues, she uncovers more Others living nearby than she ever expected.
Like Tavian, a sexy Japanese fox-spirit who rivals Zack and challenges her to
embrace her Otherness. Gwen must struggle with her own conflicted identity,
learn who she can trust, and-most importantly-stay alive

So I had heard a lot about the awesomeness of Other and I wanted it bad. So when April DM-ed me offering me hers, I was like YES. I read it on vacation beach-side, and I didn't get up from my towel until I finished (my parents were complaining). Yup, I think that means it's good.

The beginning took me a while to get into, but slowly Gwen's voice and the mysterious murders pull you in. The plot was seriously original, even if it did include vampires and werewolves. I've never heard of a Pooka in my entire life, or a Kitsune, and the fact that a centaur was grocery-shopping is just....(hilariously) original.

Gwen was a heroine who was steadfast, stubborn, and absolutely determined. Sometimes she got herself into sticky situations but when your trying to find someone who murdered one of your favorite people, your judgement can get a bit clouded. Nothing stopped her from searching who the killer was, not even being semi-threatened by a super tall, dark, and brooding werewolf.

Tavien was also awesome. I mean, Japanese fox spirit? That's pretty darn COOL! And he was sweet and as equally stubborn though he knew when to back out of situations that didn't seem very safe (most of the time). He was the one that stayed level-headed when she was freaking out and they were absolutely adorable together.

Her other dude Zack, was ehh for me. Didn't ever really like him, especially when the constant asking for sex started. I mean, that = instant no-no in my book. But he kinda redeemed himself in the end and SPEAKING of the ending...

Karen did an amazing job of hiding who the killer was. I guessed multiple people and NEVER came up with who the real killer was! So when it's finally revealed, i'm was like: Seriously?!?! Which is good, since most books don't really surprise me.

All in All, I give it an: AMAZINGNESS.

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Waiting on Wednesday...on a Thursday

Entwined by Heather Dixon
Comes out with HarperTeen Greenwillow Books.
March 29th, 2011

Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every
night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What
they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of
the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening
his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily,
a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic,
and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon
Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou
I.Am.So.Excited. If you didn't know, The 12 Dancing Princesses is my all-time favorite fairy tale so retellings of it get me really, really excited. Also, Azalea is a cool name and she sounds like she'll be an awesome heroine. I wonder how they're gonna pull off having 12 sisters and me actually....trying to remember them all (which is something that irked me about Princess of the Midnight Ball) but i'm soooo excited. And that cover....that cover is divine.

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Don't throw rocks cuz I didn't like it: The Mockingjay Edition

No one is gonna expect this review (expect the people i've already talked to about it) I'm not giving it five stars. I'm not gonna sat it's perfect. This blog is my 100% pure opinion and while this won't change other's, I like people knowing for I feel! So the honesty begins: I was disappointed in Mockingjay. (and I know i'm not the only one)

Collins sucked us in with Hunger Games, raised the bar with Catch Fire (which is and always will be my favorite). She built up the excitment and Mockingjay? It fell flat. Discussion:

My biggest peeve was the characters. Especially main three were extremely off character to how she set them up in HG and CF. Gale was more hateful and acted more like a bloodthirsty terminator than himself. Katniss was whiny and selfish and annoying and I know she's traumatized and whatever but come on! And Peeta....what happened to the one I loved? GAH.

I liked the pacing and plot, which was pretty much like a Major conspiracy theory. She timed everything well, making something excited or full of tension when needed--though some scenes weren't very necessary.

Then there is my favorite character, which is and forever will be FINNICK. All my favorite lines were said by him and my favorite scenes mostly have him in it!

Finally, the ending. It was baaad. I went to a spoiler chat to vent my feelings with other bloggers and we all agreed. Bad ending. BAD. If you loved it (and I have a bunch of friends that do) I don't hate. You like what you like, I don't what I don't. :)

My rating? N/A. I'm not going to give it a word rating but if you didn't see my goodreads, I gave it a 3 1/2

And that's it. Don't throw rocks at me!!
Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.

p.s There is no summary because really? Who doesn't know what this is?


Interview with Rhode from Infinite Days *insert fangirl squeal*

Today on Radiant Reads, we got Rhode, the super smexy, awesome, sweet, *insert lots of awesome adjectives here* vampire from Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel. If you know me, you know I absolutely LOVED Rhode and he's just awesome and *drools*. Ehmm, anyway here he is!

Summary: Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham
Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough
to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens
to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of
terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to
be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity,
Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she
ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at
Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one
she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each
passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will
open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed
days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But,
to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an
alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the
bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to
pass her biology midterm?


1) When you were first turned, how did you feel?

I wanted it more than anything else in the world. I feared death - the 14th century was marred by the black plague. I was foolish and I believed becoming a vampire would protect me from death. As you know, it didn't.

2) You know you were going to die during the ritual to save Lenah, but you did it anyway. Why?

There was no question, she is the love of my life. The one thing in this world that I cannot escape.

3) What first attracted to you to Lenah when she was human?

How she touched her world with the tips of her fingers, that she was interested in all the mundane objects most people overlook - I had to have her near me.

4) What did you think when Lenah had first started to form her coven?

I did not hear of it until much later. She created the coven while I was gone but rumors surfaced of a vicious gang of vampires in England led by a gorgeous female. It didn't take long for me to figure it out - I know Lenah very well.

5) Your on my Top Ten YA guys list, what do you think about that?

What's this YA list? I think that's a ranking system of some sort? Am I high up on that list? If so, then I approve.


Ah, *squeee* Ok, there you go! If you guys don't know who Rhode is, then you must read Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel as soon as possible! Amazing book, here's my review!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


In My Maailbox (5)

Sorry, I haven't been posting as often as usual but you know I start HIGH SCHOOL tomorrow! So i've been like AHHHH O.O and preparing/orientating like crazy. But don't think just because i'm going into High School, I won't be posting everyday and on twitter. I will be!

(If you can't see it, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPVtCtOKysY)

For Review:

Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett (Thanks, Candlewick!)

Greek: Double Date by Marsha Warner (Thanks, Tricia!)

Covert Youth Agency ebook by Jason Ancona (Thanks, Jason!)

The Oracle Rebounds ebook by Allison van Diepan (Thanks, Lindsey!)

Borrowed: (Thanks, SHERRY!)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoneix by JK Rowling


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

What did you guys get in your Mailbox?
Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Fragment Friday (1)

I'm gonna start partaking in Fragment Friday! Woo! Fragment Friday was made by James over at Book Chic and I was forced--er asked to do this by the lovely Erica from The Book Cellar! I shall be reading from Nightshade by Andrea Cremer!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

Who: Mandy Hubbard
What: Prada and Prejudice
When: June 11th, 2009
Why: Hype
How: Traded with Erica.

To impress the popular girls on a high school trip to London, klutzy Callie
buys real Prada heels. But trying them on, she trips…conks her head…and wakes up
in the year 1815!
There Callie meets Emily, who takes her in, mistaking her
for a long-lost friend. As she spends time with Emily’s family, Callie warms to
them—particularly to Emily’s cousin Alex, a hottie and a duke, if a tad

But can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, and win
Alex’s heart, before her time in the past is up?

More Cabot than
Ibbotson, Prada and Prejudice is a high-concept romantic comedy about finding
friendship and love in the past in order to have happiness in the present.

I had heard Prada and prejudice was a light, cute. funny read so I picked it up to come to vacation beach-side with me. Good thing I did! Prada and Prejudice is the perfect book to read while soaking up some sun!

The plot was pretty unique. Clumsy girl hits her head and ends up in the 18th century! And then when someone mistakes her for a long-lost friend, she's taken into a strange household! The thing I liked about Callie was how relatable she was to a lot of people. She was just a girl who wanted to fit in, be noticed, and party with friends. I've had a similar problem a few years ago where my closest friend moved away. It's really awkward to fit back into the circles of society while still trying to maintain contact with someone far away!

One of the funniest things were Callie trying to act like an obedient girl and falling seriously short. All the conversations between her and Alex about 'her place' and role in society really keep me interesting and laughing. Though I did think Callie took a lot of things too personally and was just sorta all over the place concerning her personality and thoughts.

I wish the book would have been longer though, and explored everything a bit more. Emily was super sweet but kinda airheaded, And Alex did fall for her pretty suddenly. I would've wanted to enjoy it longer! I thought this was gonna be a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, but Mandy molded it her complete own way! You do see elements of Austen's novel (Their relationship and Alex fit the Darcy mold) in the story though that remind you but besides that, Prada and Prejudice is a really loose retelling.

Finally, the ending. It is something that really disappointed me! It ended abrupt and sudden, and just a big no-no for me. And then that last scene? I was sooo confused! The mean girls just had a random change of heart? That doesn't happen! So yeah, last scene was another big no-no.

Final Rating: AHHH-GREAT. I definitely recommend but don't go rushing to read it!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Interview and Contest with Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters

Today on the blog, I have the lovely Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters and it's sequel Guardian of the Gate!

Guardian of the Gate:

The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants: There's also Lia's boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing.

1. Where'd you inspiration for this story come from?

The initial seed of the story came from the biblical legend of the Watchers, a legion of angels who were said to have been sent to Earth to watch over mankind. In the legend, the angels fell in love with mortal women and were banished from Heaven, after which they were referred to as the Lost Souls. Hearing that phrase – the Lost Souls – was my dun-dun DUN! moment.

2. If you could live with three fictional YA characters, which would they be?

Thomas from Dean Koontz's ODD THOMAS series, Katsa from GRACELING (maybe she could teach me some kickass moves), and Shadow from Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS.

3. Have you ever wanted to have a twin sister? She can be good, doesn't have to be evil?

Sure! As an almost-only child (I have three half-brothers that I didn't really grow up with), I've always wanted a sibling with whom I was close - and you can't get any closer than a twin. It's such a mysterious connection, which is most of why it intrigues me.

4. Describe your novel in four words?

Dark, atmospheric, and sensual.

5. Was it easier writing going through the editing process a second time around with Guardian of the gates?

It was harder because I didn't have my agent's input first. I have the best agent in the world (Steven Malk with Writer's House), and he really helped me refine Prophecy even before it was sold. It made the post-sale revisions much lighter than they might normally have been. With Guardian, it was all me and my incredibly astute, meticulous editor, Nancy Conescu. And she catches EVERYTHING! Which I love about her because it makes me a better writer. But yeah. It's not always easy!

6. Finally, which did you like better? Hardcover or Paperback of Prophecy of the Sister?

I think the paperback is better suited to the audience. And I'm not trying to give you a politician's answer! It's just that I did love the hardcover, but I felt that it was a little too adult for the market. The paperback is beautiful and alluring and a little bit sensual - everything you could ask for in a YA Gothic fantasy!


And now the contest! You can winnnnn:
Personalized Prophecy paperback, a mini picture frame, and a couple of the pretty hair pins (I have some, they really are pretty!)

Fill out THIS FORM to enter; the deadline is September 1st!
Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Who: Kody Keplinger
What: The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
When: September 7th, 2010
Why: Curiosity
How: We Love YA Tours

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think
she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to
fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact,
Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a
distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she
throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a
bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes
with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more
than anyone.

I don't like Contemporary novels. Rarely, do I pick them up (like I did with Sea and loved it!). I didn't have any interest what-so-ever in reading this book. Nope, nada, zip, zero. But then I saw all the great reviews of it and still wasn't very interested. THEN I saw it on We Love YA ARC Tours (which is run by the awesome Kelsey), I thought i'd give it a shot. Good thing I did!

I think everyone feels the Duff at some point of their lives, especially in their teens years. My group of friends are all extremely pretty and while I have a good self-esteem, I do sometimes feel like the Duff. But I know that sometimes, so do they. Everyone feels like that at least one, even the most vain, vapid, self-centered person you know. The Duff is a portray of how much being a Duffy can affect how you are and the decisions you make.

The relationship between Wesley and Bianca was purely physical and sometimes I did find Bianca's random tendencies to kiss him then smack him a bit random, it is something that people do (enter relationships like that) because they are stressed or freaking out about life. Bianca was someone everyone could relate too, at least anyone who's been a teenager.

Bianca's best friends were two people I actually didn't like. It's not that they are bad people but they were pretty annoying and I kinda wanted to skip the scenes they were in. Welsey was everything you want in a male lead with just a touch of man-whore-ness which a lot of the time, was not attractive. But he was sexy and mysterious and cocky, but you could still see that over time, he cared about her. And she just continually shut him out.

Bianca's journey through life (which makes me think of THIS Bianca ) was a book that I devoured in 3 hours and really did like! Kody is a really good writer and the whole novel embodied the feeling of looking at yourself in the mirror and sometimes not liking what you see.

Also, I LOVE the cover!


Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


5 month blog-a-versary MEGA giveaway!

Hey guys! It's about time i have my first giveaway! Da-da-da-dummmmm. Today is my 5 month blog-o-versary and to celebrate, i'm having a MASSIVE giveaway!

I do want to take some time to thank ALL of you guys for commenting and following and viewing and just being wonderful! I wanna thank Julie for urging me to start this and spazzing along with me, Nicole for answering my tweets that go HELP ME, Bianca for going all the techy things (inlcuding my two beautiful layouts!) that need to be done on this blog, and all the other wonderful bloggers out there who blog and tweet and are just awesome people! Thank you to everyone who reads my blog, or reads other people's blog because reading is awesome!

And now I know you guys are waiting for the giveaway photo of the stuff your gonna win. Well....i'm not gonna give it to you. Just kidding, here it is: (stuff will be added since some of the things are still on their way)

  • Stork by Wendy Delsol (ARC)
  • Signed Sampler and Tattoos of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
  • Sea bookmarks by Heidi R Kling
  • Signed Shadowed Summer Bookmark by Saundra Mitchell
  • Signed Forget Me-nots bookmarks by Amy Brecourt White
  • Signed The Thirteenth Chime bookmark by Emma Micheals
  • Forgive my Fins tattoos and bookmarks by Tera Lynn Childs
  • Signed The Secret Year bookmarks by Jennifer R. Hubbard
  • Freefall bookmarks by Mindi Scott
  • Guardian of the Gate bookmark by Michelle Zink
  • Glow in the Dark Morganville Vampires Bracelet by Rachel Caine
  • Signed We Hear the Dead postcard by Dianne Salerni

And more to come!

ETA: This contest is NOT international! Sorry, I wrote this post at 2 in the morning and I forgot! Sorry, international people! But I don't have a job so I haz no money. SORRY! I'll have one for you sometime!

Fill out the form to enter and the deadline is AUGUST 28TH!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Steam What? Guest post by Suzanne Lazear aka Lolita Suzanne

Steampunk. You’ve probably heard the term.

But what is Steampunk, anyway?

There are plenty of witty quips put there – Steampunkers party like its 1899, Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown, it’s Jules Verne on crack.

Basically, it’s alternate history. It’s imagining what modern technology would look like if we used Victorian materials and aesthetic – think airships and brass robots. Think of a world filled with adventure, mad-scientists, brass goggles, difference engines, air pirates, corset-and bustle wearing Vampire hunters, and zeppelins. That’s Steampunk.

Steampunk worlds often have a Victorian feel--think Neil Gaiman’s Stardust or The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. But they don’t need to take place in Victorian London. They can be set in any place or time – the distant past, modern-day America, or even another planet all together. Leviathan is an alternate version of World War I Europe. Steampunk stories can be any genre from mystery to paranormal; they can be dark and gritty, or light and fluffy.
Steampunk is also all about the gadgets and embracing the Victorian attitude of makerism. For example, Leanna Hieber refers to her book The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker as “Gas-Lamp Fantasy” and not Steampunk because it lacks “gadgets.”

Okay, I get the steam, but why the punk?

The term “Steampunk” was coined as a bit of a joke in the 1980’s and stuck. I’ve heard several people say that “Steampulp” would be more accurate. In Cyberpunk, Biopunk, and to some extent, even Elfpunk, there’s usually a whole dystopian/anarchy theme to the stories--hence, the “punk”. These themes are usually missing in Steampunk, but there’s still often themes of rebellion and the stories can get gritty – the Victorian era wasn’t all balls and bustles and an alternate Victorian-esque society probably isn’t either.

The things I like the most about Steampunk is the sheer variety. No two Steampunk worlds – or stories – are going to be alike. There literally is something for everyone. There is so much room to be creative and mash up genres.

Steampunk is also more than books and movies. There’s great Steampunk music from bands like Abney Park and Emilie Autumn, there’s Steampunk art, Steampunk clothes from places like Clockwork Couture and the Steampunk Emporium, and even Steampunk jewelry. Just take a look at Etsy, there are so many fabulous things, many of them handmade and one-of-a-kind. There are even Steampunk conventions--Steamcon2 in Seattle, anyone? Steampunk is many, many things.

Most of all, Steampunk is fun. Have a ball and don’t forget your brass goggles.

Lolita Suzanne’s Young Adult/Middle Grade Steampunk Reading list

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
• “The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance” series by Glenn Dakin
• Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Worldshaker by Richard Harland
• The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Hieber
• The Boneshaker by Kate Milford
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
• Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
• “His Dark Materials” series by Phillip Pullman
• “Hungry City Chronicles” series by Phillip Reeve
• “Larklight” series by Phillip Reeve
• The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
• Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Bio: Lolita Suzanne is Chief Mayhem Officer of the Steampunk Group Blog, Steamed! She likes Steampunk for the shoes and clockhand tiaras. Suzanne also writes Steampunk books for teens, with her first releasing in 2012. Sometimes she can be found wearing a bustle, but she has yet to make a ray gun.


Waiting on Wednesday...on a Thursday

TEMPESTUOUS by Lesley Livingston.
Release Date: December 21st, 2010.

(summary not available yet)

OMG, I want.this.so.bad. This is the third book in the Wondrous Strange Trilogy! The first book, Wondrous Strange, has been reviewed here and Darklight (second book) was read and loved! And Lesley left us with a heart-breaking cliff hanger AND I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NAO.

And the cover? Gorgeous!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Who: Rebecca Maizel
What: Infinite Days
When: August 3rd, 2010
Why: Won
How: Contest

Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham
Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough
to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens
to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of
terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to
be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity,
Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she
ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at
Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one
she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each
passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will
open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed
days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But,
to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an
alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the
bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to
pass her biology midterm?

Infinite Days is proof that vampires are not going anywhere! I've stalled writing this review for days, because I have no idea what I was going to say. I finished this novel in tears, my voice quaking and my mom franticlly asking what was wrong. To answer, I paced back and forth in the house going "Just...oh my god. Wow. Oh my god." So you know when i'm that hazed over and amazed, it must be good! I will admit it, it took me a while to really get into. But after 30 pages? I was hooked.

The book starts off with your first sneak peek of Rhode and Lenah's relationship. Rhode (which I will fan-girl about later) sacrifices so much for Lenah to be human and to be able to feel again. She's fully human but still has some vampire senses, like being able to see far distances and knowing the intentions and feelings of people who talk to her. And it was funny seeing Lenah do things that she only did as a vampire as a human. Everytime she would meet someone new, it was customary to check the person's pulse, decide if he/she was healthy or not, and then decide how long it would take to kill them. You'd think it'd be annoying, but it wasn't.

My favorite part to read out of the story really had to be the flashbacks. It was so nice seeing a peek into Lenah's old life, because it really explained a lot about how she is now. It showed you flashbacks for her with Rhode (which meant more Rhode ;) and flashbacks of her with her cover. Speaking of her coven, I kinda liked them too! Song and Heath and Gavin I liked, not so much Vicken. I know I shouldn't like them because they're evil and such but still.

Lenah was a character that I really liked. Not because she was relatable but because, like us, she was learning. You know how when you're a kid, and you think it's all right to pull other kids hair and break their crayons and such? And then we learn that it's not okay to hurt people and how to be kind and fair. Well, Lenah learns too. I liked being in Lenah's mind because it was so based on what was right and wrong. And Tony was an awesomely funny character.

Something did irk me, but that has to do with Justin. You see, Justin had a girlfriend. And while his girlfriend was a b****, you don't FLIRT with other people in front of your girlfriend! For a while there, I didn't believe Lenah and Justin's relationship. It didn't seem genuine (not like her and Rhode's did) and moved kinda fast. They both had their moments but for the most part, their relationship didn't seem authentic and real. Love at first (or second) sight is hard to pull off, and sadly I didn't believe Justin.

Ok, Rhode. *fangirl squeal* It takes a lot to make me fangirlish squeal and it happens with few fictional guys (out of the 10, I only fangirlish squeal when you mention 5). Rhode was amazing and hot and dangerous, which you get a peek of in her old old flashbacks. But he was sweet and loving and actually cared about her, even if vampires don't have feelings. Because if they didn't, he wouldn't have sacrificed so much for her that he did. I could read a WHOLE book about Rhode and not mind in the slightest (Rebecca, i'm pretty sure you'll read this so you should get right on that ;) He left on page 22 and only showed up in some flashbacks, but he was the main man on my mind during the whole book. Sorry, Justin!

My rating: AWESOMESAUCE (The small flaws were no match for the overall awesomeness)


Interview with Rebecca Maizel, author of Infinite Days

Today, we have Rebecca Maizel on the blog talking about her debut novel Infinite Days. The review for it will go up tomorrow but if you see me on my twitter, you know I LOVED this book. I think Rebecca Maizel is one of the most talented 2010 Debuts along with Heidi and I absolutely loved loved her book.

Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?


1) Vampires are a very used-up subject, but you brought an amazing twist into a large market. What gave you the idea for this story?

Lenah - I wanted to write about a character who went from someone irrevocably evil trying to find their way back into the light. I was obsessed with that change . What kind of person would she be?

2) If you could live with 3 fictional YA character, who would they be?

1. Harry Potter
2. Arnold in Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
3. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings in the hope he might want to make out.

3) Describe your book in 3 words.

Break your heart.

4) The love between Rhode and Lenah is unbreakable, mortal or not, but the bond is what brought them together. How exactly does that bond work?

In my vampire lore, when a vampire falls in love with another vampire, magic is formed, bonding those two vampires for their entire existence. It's a curse that can't be broken...that is until the ritual is performed. What's beautiful about Lenah and Rhode's relationship is that she remains in love with him after the ritual is completed and that magic bond between them is broken. She loves him even when that bond is broken. Yes, she falls in love with Justin Enos but it's a different kind of love - not marred by black magic. It's pure, human.

5) Lenah was a pretty evil but successful vampire, do you think if you were a vampire, you'd be the same?

Hell yes. She is bad ass! Oh, woops. Should I say bad a**?

6) You should! How insane was your publishing process and finding an agent?

Pretty insane - I mean, I was rejected 58573759257382493820 times with other projects and ideas. You have to believe in your work, even if it never sees the light of day. The process has to be enough.

Thanks! This was fun!


Thanks Rebecca, I had fun too! Hope you guys liked it!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.



Isn't it pretty?!?!

I love it, I keep staring at it lovingly.
The lovely Bianca Nadine from Nyxen's Adventures--who is my critique partner, awesome friends, and tech junkie--made it! And she worked on it for 4 HOURS.
So thanks soooooo much Bianca! I love my new layout! It's awesomely amazing and you are AWESOMESAUCE.
*drools* Sorry, was staring at my layout. LOL. Well, it's 3:30 in the morning (I wanted to stay up until she finished, though it's only like 12 for her) so i'm going to sleep!

What do you think?!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


In My Mailbox Vlog (4)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren.

For review:

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler


Other by Karen Kincy


The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Prada and Predijice by Mandy Hubbard


Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

What did YOU guys get? Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.



I'm doing this post because of the overload of over-due awards all up in my blog. So this is all the awards i've gotten in the past month

Thanks to Courtney from Courtneys Reads, JP from YA Urban, Jeremy from Novel Thoughts, and DJ from DJ's life in fiction! I won two more of these but sadly, I don't remember the people who have given them to me!

7 things about me:

1. I have cats, which technically aren't even mine, they just hang around my house.

2. My bookshelf is organized by which books looks better next to it. I tried doing it alphabetically and genre-related but I just couldn't. It looks prettier like this =P

3. I am 3 things: a twitter-addict, a pokemon-addict, and a email-addict. I constantly refresh 1 and 3 and i'm playing 2 right now!

4. My phone is white, my ipod is pink and my DS is destroyed. Seriously, but it still works!

5. I'd rather spend 50 dollars on books than on anything else. I love clothes and all but.....books O.O

6. I haz a trampoline. It is very, very huge.

7. My favorite color is purple!

And the awards go to......

1. Julie from Blogger Hearts Books. Why? She is my awesome blogger friend and her blog is awesome too!

2. Nicole from Word For Teens. Why? Because I luff her and she's the MasterPimp of blogging.

3. Allison from The Allure of Books. Why? Because I just found it and it's AWESOME

4. Khleasa from Once Upon A Review. Why? I met her a while ago and her and her blog are AWESOME.

5. Liz from Consumed by Books. Why? Her blog name is kinda really awesomesauce. And she's super nice :)

6.Wondergirl from The Here, The Now, The Books. Why? She iz awesome and her blog is cool

7. Leslie from YA books reviewed. Why? She's so funny and nice. And her blog header is awesome *nods*

I can't think of anymore, being I just woke up and need some breakfast. But yes, there you go! If you haven't checked out these blogs you should because there awesome!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Sea by Heidi R. Kling

Who: Heidi R. Kling
What: Sea
When: June 10th, 2010
Where: Amazon Barnes & Nobles
Why: Hype
How: Bought

Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the
Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna
reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to
post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful
orphaned boy,
Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they
can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from
him? And what about her old
best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may
or may not be waiting for her
back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the
truth about her mother’s plane
crash? The farther she gets from home, the
closer she comes to finding answers.

And Sea’s real adventure begins


This was the original review for Sea:

ZOMG ewu ingruidngtdmin. BUY NAO, LOVE NAO, AMAZING. Heidi is a Genius. kthanxbai

But you know....that's not very informative. So pretty much, I absolutely adored Sea. I don't usually like contemporary novels and am very very iffy about them, but after Erica and Julie telling me I had too, I did. And i'm soooo glad I did because it was amazing.

Heidi has wrote a stunning debut that I would recommend to everyone!

All the the characters were sweet and wonderful and I loved them all. Sienna was the one that stood out the most for me. She had such a tragic past but she was compassionate and wanted to help people who had experienced things that she had. She was caring and a lovely Main Character. I'd totally want her to be my friend. Elli was the most adorable little girl I had ever seen. It shows how someone can have terrible things happen to them, but still be so full of life. Even though Elli was a child, I kinda admired that in her. Her ability to still be able to smile even though that had all happened. I admired that about a lot of the people in the orphanage.

And then you have Sienna and Deni. That is what drew me in to Sea in first place and it did not let me down. Sienna and Deni had a real connection, that was intense and beautiful. They were brought together by their similarities, both having tragic things in their lives happen and working through it. They were wonderful together and I just loved seeing them talk. I also loved Deni, he was so sweet and passionate and caring of the younger ones.

I also liked the small introductions to Indonesian culture that Sea gave you. You learned a lot about there temples and customs and the way you must act in a different place. It was nice seeing Sienna get accustomed to it all! I had never read anything in Indonesia so it was a refreshing change of setting!

All in all, Sea was a fantastic debut that you wouldn't even except it to be a debut. Anything else Heidi writes is now on auto-buy for me because she truly is a magnificent writer!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Waiting on Wednesday :)

WITHER, the first book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy, is due to be out in 2011 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by
the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

This book sound SOOOOOOO good! I mean, forced marriage, trying to escape, and a father going crazy to find a cure. AND I have the feeling that servant might be serving us up a love triangle! And you know how much I love those! OH OH, and the cover?! Insanely pretty! Between HarperTeen's 2011 releases and now S&S, my bookshelf is gonna be FULL of beautiful covers!


Author Interview: Heidi R. Kling

As you guys know, I absolutely LOVED Sea (the review for it is going up on Thursday!). And Heidi is sooooo nice (and efficient!) so I just had to interview her:


Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the
Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones
reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months
post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy,
Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they
can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old
best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her
back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane
crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers.

And Sea’s real adventure begins

A note: A lot of people seemed turned off by the touchy subject of an actual tsunami that took place in 2004. But this book isn't ONLY about the tsunami. It's more than just a story of tragedy. It's a story of hope and love and epic-awesomeness. I was iffy about picking it up too (but then Erica and Julie told me i'd be shunned if I didn't pick it up) and I LOVED it!


1. Where'd you inspiration for Sea come from? When did you decide to write about such a tragic event?

SEA was inspired by my husband's real life volunteer efforts in Indonesia after the tsunami. I wanted to write a story which would make teens and adults everywhere be able to connect to the event. It happened so far away from us, but natural and manmade tragedies happen all over the world. I think global awareness is really important.

2. Which character would you say is most like yourself?

Vera. Definitely Vera.
Kidding! I can't stand Vera. I'd go with Sienna. Hands down.

3. If you could live in a house with 3 fictional YA characters, which would they be?

OOOH boy. Um.
Hmm...Damon from The Vampire Diaries (though I haven't read the books, I'd like to assume he'd be Ian Somerhalder), the main character from 20 Boy Summer, because I think we'd get along well, and Nick from The Demon's Lexicon and sequels, because I'd like to see him and Damon RUMBLE.

4. Describe your novel in 3 words?

Hope after tragedy.

5. Has it difficult to write about such a tragic things that happened? What research did you have to do to write this?

I picked my husband's brain, and our friend, a volunteer who spent 6 months in an Indonesian orphanage. Several of the tsunami survivors themselves are my pen pals. SEA was definitely emotional to write, but I don't find "sad" necessarily "depressing" so there's a big difference there. Sea is a book about a disaster and loss and what people are doing to try and pick up the pieces and move on. Plus, there's a lot of lighthearted moments sprinkled through so readers and me (hopefully) don't feel bogged down with the tragedy.

6. Finally, Team Spider or Deni? ;)

Like Sienna, I love them both. Equally. ;)


I'm Team Deni, just saying ;)
Hope you guys enjoyed the interview, because it was great interviewing her!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Who: Maggie Stiefvater
What: Linger
When: July 13th, 2010
Where: Amazon
Why: Sequel to awesome.
How: Gifted by Eleni from La Femme Readers

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in
Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her
parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam,
this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to
survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past
has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her
brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.At turns harrowing
and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of
love - the light and the dark, the warm and the cold - in a way you will never

At this very moment, I have finished Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m writing this review the moment after (which I never do) because I need to get this off my chest. (My hands are shaking writing this review)

Everytime I think Maggie can’t write anything better, she gives me something to marvel at. I was afraid Linger wouldn’t meet up to the amazing standards I had set reading Shiver, but Linger surpassed them. Linger was everything I love in Maggie Stiefvater’s writing—angst, beauty, longing, love, heart-wrenching writing, and that strange sensation of hope when you read her words—and then some.

Linger picks up where Shiver left off, but instead of 2 POVs, we have four. NEVER once, did I have to look up at the header to see who was speaking. Maggie has a way of giving everyone such distinct voices that I always knew when it was Isabel talking or Sam.

If you know me, you know that I consider Maggie Stiefvater the Writing Goddess, and Linger reminded me why. It’s just her words. The way they can make your heart flutter or instant tears prick your eyes. She writes beautifully, decorating her words while not trying to distract you from the point of them.

Linger had everything that I loved from Shiver, that beauty of love that was so present in the first. The way you just know Sam and Grace love each other through the looks they give, the way a small touch could mean so much more than words. I've always thought that was the most beautiful aspect of Sam and Grace’s relationship.

We’re also introduced to two new voices, Isabel and Cole. I liked being able to go into Isabel’s mind because I’ve always been fond of her. She always seemed so….untouchable to me when reading Shiver and being able to see into her mind, see the vunerability and rebellion that boiled inside her, was refreshing and intriguing.

Cole was…complicated. I think that’s the word that sums him up. There were times were I loved him, times where he ticked me off, and times when I wanted him gone. But he was beautiful in his own way, broken and damaged. He was cocky and annoying and didn’t show that he cared, but I think that’s the good thing what Maggie did. I think if Cole’s POV wouldn’t have been added, his character wouldn’t have the impact it had being able to look into his mind. He would’ve just been annoying cocky guy with a broken, caring side. But being able to see inside his mind gave a new light to the world of the wolves. Showing someone that, unlike Sam, wanted to be a wolf more than anything. And I LOVED when he met Grace. I loved reading his reaction to her =P

A lot of people are irritated by Grace’s parents and how it’s unrealistic about how they don’t care, and I don’t agree at all. I have parents who care like hell, who are protective and tell me a thousand times not to open to strangers even though I already know that. But some people don’t. Some people have parents that they never know when they’ll come home. That don’t come for dinner and don’t call to say they’ll be out late. Those people exist, whether you want to admit it or not. It sucks majorly, but it’s something we can’t ignore. I think Grace’s parents portray a type of parent that does exist in this world, even if it’s not you, it’s someone.

Linger was a wonderful, heart-breaking, beautiful read that I will be re-reading a bunch of times. Maggie Stiefvater doesn’t disappoint with the next installment in The Wolves of Mercy Falls.

And the ending? If that doesn’t leave you wanting more NAO, I don’t know what does. As I did for Linger, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the arrival of Forever! Maggie leaves you at an impasse, stuck between not believing what you just read and knowing that it really did just happen. My face= O.O (expect with tears in it.) (But I cry for anything, i'm a big softie)

I already know anything she writes is on automatic buy for me, because she really is an absolutely outstanding writer. This is a book that people aren’t going to forget. In Sam’s word, this is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one. This is beauty. This is love. This is LINGER.

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


In My Maailbox (11)

Sorry I couldn't do a vlog this week, totally sad about that. But i've been super busy and haven't had the time D: Nest week, I promise!


Prophecy of Days by Christy Readeke (signed): I won this from the Once Upon A Readathon and Christy personalized it to me! Yay! So excited to read it :)

Another Faust by Dani and Daniel Nayeri: It's an ARC but this one came out in 2009. I won it from Bookworming in the 21st Century for her June Long Contest.

Another Pan by Dani and Daniel Nayeri(ARC): Also won from Bookworming in the 21st century. I received it from Eleni from La Femme Readers though and it was signed! Another Pan is the sequel to Another Faust and will be out in October of 2010.


Sea by Heidi R Kling: I FINALLY GOT THIS BOOK. I've been super excited about it forever and I finally read it and it is AMAZING. Went to sleep at like 4 in the morning reading this then Heidi was on and I started gushing to her about how amazing she is =P

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater: This was gifted to me by Eleni from La Femme Readers (she's so sweet!) Already read it and OMG. You guys know I love Maggie Stiefvater! Review is going up tomorrow!

And that's what I got in my Mailbox today!

Happy Reading!
-Harmony B.


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